Bloody stools according to Chinese Medicine

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Bloody stools can be the consequence of several so-called “patterns of disharmony” in Chinese Medicine.

Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted, leading to symptoms or signs that something is wrong (like bloody stools here). It is similar to the concept of disease in Western Medicine but not quite: a Western disease can often be explained by several Chinese patterns and vice-versa.

A pattern often manifests itself in a combination of symptoms that, at first glance, do not seem necessarily related to each others. For instance here bloody stools is often associated with dislike of pressure on epigastric area in the pattern “Blood Stasis in the Stomach”. As you will see below, we have in record three patterns that can cause bloody stools.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of bloody stools we’ve identified four herbal formulas that may help treat patterns behind the symptom.

We’ve also selected below the five medicinal herbs that we think are most likely to help treat bloody stools.

The three "patterns of disharmony" that can cause bloody stools

In Chinese Medicine bloody stools is a symptom for 3 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

The Stomach is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Stomach in Chinese Medicine

Blood Stasis in the Stomach

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

In addition to bloody stools, other symptoms associated with Blood Stasis in the Stomach include dislike of pressure on epigastric area.

Blood Stasis in the Stomach is often treated with Shi Xiao San, a herbal formula made of 2 herbs (including Cattail Pollen - Pu Huang - as a key herb). Shi Xiao San belongs to the category of "formulas that invigorate blood and dispel blood stagnation", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Invigorates Blood".

Read more about Blood Stasis in the Stomach here

The Spleen is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Spleen in Chinese Medicine

Spleen not controlling Blood

Pulse type(s): Weak (Ruo), Fine (Xi)

In addition to bloody stools, other symptoms associated with Spleen not controlling Blood include abnormal uterine bleeding, poor appetite and fatigue.

Spleen not controlling Blood is often treated with Gui Pi Tang, a herbal formula made of 12 herbs (including Ginseng - Ren Shen - as a key herb). Gui Pi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify qi and blood", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies and nourish Qi and Blood".

Read more about Spleen not controlling Blood here

Water Buffalo Horns (Shui Niu Jiao) is the king ingredient for Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, a formula used for Heat in the Blood

Heat in the Blood

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu)

Tongue color: Red

Heat in the Blood (or Blood-Heat) refers to a condition whereby Heat, as a so-called "Pernicious Influence", entered the Blood. This invasion tends to accelerate Blood flow (leading to a faster pulse) and to manifest itself in various types of bleeding as well as other symptoms.

In addition to bloody stools, other symptoms associated with Heat in the Blood include dizziness, eczema and insomnia.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Heat in the Blood is associated with health issues such as Early Menstruation, Abnormal Uterine Bleeding or Heavy Menstruation.

Heat in the Blood is often treated with Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Water Buffalo Horns - Shui Niu Jiao - as a key herb). Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear nutritive-level heat", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Treats severe fevers and Heat in the Blood system".

Read more about Heat in the Blood here

Four herbal formulas that might help with bloody stools

Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang

Source date: 1830 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Invigorates Blood. Eliminates Blood Stagnation below the diaphragm. Stops pain. Promotes Qi movement.

Why might Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang help with bloody stools?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Blood Stasis in the Stomach' of which bloody stools is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Blood Stasis In The Stomach include dislike of pressure on epigastric area.

Read more about Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang here

Gui Pi Tang

Source date: 1529 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and nourish Qi and Blood. Tonifies Heart and Spleen.

Why might Gui Pi Tang help with bloody stools?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Spleen not controlling Blood' of which bloody stools is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Spleen Not Controlling Blood include abnormal uterine bleeding, poor appetite and fatigue.

Read more about Gui Pi Tang here

Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang

Source date: 650 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Treats severe fevers and Heat in the Blood system. Removes Blood Stagnation.

Why might Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang help with bloody stools?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heat in the Blood' of which bloody stools is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Heat In The Blood include dizziness, eczema and insomnia.

Read more about Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang here

Shi Xiao San

Source date: 1108 AD

Number of ingredients: 2 herbs

Key actions: Invigorates Blood. Dispels Blood Stagnation. Eases pain.

Why might Shi Xiao San help with bloody stools?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Blood Stasis in the Stomach' of which bloody stools is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Blood Stasis In The Stomach include dislike of pressure on epigastric area.

Read more about Shi Xiao San here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat bloody stools

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with bloody stools?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat bloody stools as a symptom, like Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang or Gui Pi Tang for instance.

Dong Quai is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Lubricates the Intestines. Relieve constipation. Promotes circulation and dispels Bi Pain. Reduce Dysmenorrhea and help with irregular menstruation.

Read more about Dong Quai here

Why might Mudan Peony Bark (Mu Dan Pi) help with bloody stools?

Because Mudan Peony Bark is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat bloody stools as a symptom, like Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang or Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang for instance.

Mudan Peony Bark is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Cools the Blood, activates Blood circulation and resolves Blood stasis.

Read more about Mudan Peony Bark here

Why might Flying Squirrel Faeces (Wu Ling Zhi) help with bloody stools?

Because Flying Squirrel Faeces is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat bloody stools as a symptom, like Shi Xiao San or Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang for instance.

Flying Squirrel Faeces is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Disperses congealed Blood in the lower abdomen and uterus and relieves pain. Promotes childhood nutrition with Cold Stagnation and focal abdominal swelling.

Read more about Flying Squirrel Faeces here

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with bloody stools?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat bloody stools as a symptom, like Gui Pi Tang or Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang for instance.

Liquorice is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach, the Heart and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Basal Qi and nourishes the Spleen Qi. Clears Heat and dispels toxicity. Moistens the Lungsexpel phlegm and stop coughing. Relieves spasms and alleviates pain. Harmonizes and moderates the effects of other herbs.

Read more about Liquorice here

Why might Red Peony Root (Chi Shao) help with bloody stools?

Because Red Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat bloody stools as a symptom, like Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang or Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang for instance.

Red Peony Roots is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Liver.

Its main actions are: Moves Blood, relieves pain and reduces swelling. Cools the Blood and the Liver.

Read more about Red Peony Roots here